Affiliation and distinction were two dynamic philosophies at work during Frost Valley YMCA’s website development. Understanding the camp’s affiliation with the national YMCA organization, Guide Creative effectively maintained national brand guidelines while creating a design and user experience that were unique to the style Frost Valley wanted to portray for the camp. Combining that with social media integration, multiple blogs and easy content sharing through social platforms, Frost Valley can now fulfill its social media and content strategies as well.
Brand consistency, social media strategy and a memorable user experience were not only key objectives for Frost Valley YMCA, but they become the centerpiece of Guide Creative’s latest go-live. Continue reading
The Project Up Close:
Alpha Kappa Psi experienced a myriad of struggles with their old website, from a confusing navigation scheme that made it difficult for members to find relevant information, to an inconsistent style across the site. Upon approaching Guide Creative, it was quickly determined that the focus of the new site needed to be content. AKPsi has chapters across the entire United States, as well as in Canada and the United Kingdom.
In order to be seen as a hub of information and to appeal to those various markets, Guide Creative focused first on making the new design as editable as possible and then paired that content with an new, intuitive navigation structure. The visual design was created to not only reinforce Alpha Kappa Psi’s brand, but also to guide the eye towards relevent content, featured callouts, and the navigation.
Upon launch of their new site, Alpha Kappa Psi began to receive feedback from members that the new site was a “breath of fresh air”, allowing for easy navigation while estbalishing a bold new look for the fraternity. Before the re-design, information was buried beneath level upon level of navigation.
After Guide Creative’s assistance, important information was found within one or two clicks. Since launch, Alpha Kappa Psi has continued to work with Guide Creative to build a new eStore, as well as to plan a new interactive chapter map to display Alpha Kappa Psi chapters across the world.
The Project Up Close:
Get your glass down here.
Museum of Glass needed their site to be more easily interactive.
The Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, provides a dynamic learning environment to appreciate the medium of glass through creative experiences, collections and exhibitions. Their old website was outdated, and did not provide adequate tools to interact with their audience. They wanted their new website to be more engaging, allow for more user interaction and showcase a new visual “look”, all with the ability for their staff to make more frequent updates to allow the site to feel more relevant.
Guide Creative took these requirements and designed a site with a new modern look, engaging imagery, and an interactive piece on the homepage where users can interact and discover different aspects of the Museum of Glass.
As a result of their new design, The Museum of Glass website has received praise from all of their major audience groups on the new interactive and community features, and has increased overall interest in the museum by increased visibility on the web. More people than ever are discovering the Museum of Glass due largely to their new engaging website, and they have seen an increase in overall museum visitors and memberships.
The Project Up Close:
When Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund approached Guide Creative and Blackbaud Interactive for a redesign of their site, they had two major goals in mind – 1) As the direct legacy of Dian Fossey, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund wanted the message of “who they are” to be clear on the new site, and 2) wanted to increase giving through improved donor engagement. As part of this mission, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund wanted to emphasis their strong photography throughout the site to help communicate their mission and dedication to working to preserve gorillas 365 days a year.
A Multimedia Gallery, utilizing Slideshow Pro Director, was implemented to serve up the variety of images and videos Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund had available in a user friendly format.
In the first quarter after going live, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International saw immediate results from the redesign of their site and SEO consulting. $45,000 more was raised in the 1st quarter of the year compared to the year before, direct traffic went up by 45%, bounce rates dropped by 5%, average page views went up by 18%, and average time on the site per user increased by 26%.
In addition, as a result of the strong style guide and SEO best practices that were delivered to Dian Fossey as part of the Design Cycle process, the content on their site has remained fresh in the months following their go-live.
The Project Up Close:
Ronald McDonald House Philadelphia (RMHP) approached Guide Creative with the need to create a new fundraising design for their 4th Annual Plane Pull event utilizing Friends Asking Friends. Beyond a basic branding guide that defined colors and logo treatments, RMHP left many of the creative decisions to Guide Creative designers. They had the idea of a plane-based giving thermometer moving down a runaway, and corresponding imagery, but were not sure how to approach it. Finally, RMHP had a very aggressive timeline to meet, and appreciated any extra effort to enable them to go live as soon as possible.
Following an extensive discovery process in which all these requirements were communicated to a designer, it was left to Guide Creative to interpret these requirements into a robust design that would be easy to manage and visually striking, while pulling in the “plane” theme so heavily utilized in their marketing efforts around the event.
Ronald McDonald House Philadelphia was pleased enough with their Friends Asking Friends design that they reached out directly to Guide Creative’s management team to rave about how great their experience was, and how satisfied they were with their design.
They were especially thrilled with how the airplane thermometer tastefully incorporated their theme, with the plane graphic being pulled steadily across the runway. With ties into Facebook and Twitter, it only took a month to raise almost half the Plane Pull event goal for 2012.
Special Events & Communications Manager
The Project Up Close:
A Safe Haven helps people aspire, transform, and sustain their lives from homelessness to self-sufficiency with pride and purpose. For their annual RUN! to End Homelessness event website, they wanted to integrate the colors and overall modern style from their newly rebranded website, while showcasing their supporters from previous RUN! to End Homelessness events.
They also needed a quick turn-around, as they were already taking registrations for the event offline and losing valuable online fundraising opportunities. Finally, A Safe Haven needed to emphasize their supporters by featuring compelling photography of past events highlighting their volunteer involvement and communicating the excitement of the RUN! to End Homelessness through the imagery on the site.
Because supporters are so vital to A Safe Haven’s success, we found a way to include photographs of past participants within their design and, knowing they were in a hurry, we were able to get them up and running within about two weeks of receiving the assignment.
They are thrilled that Friends Asking Friends allows them to capture the spirit of their organization within the design of their event site, making it an extremely effective tool in recruiting runners and raising funds to end homelessness. Using the new site, A Safe Haven raised over $16,000 towards their goal in the first month live.
Avid Runner and LA resident
The Project Up Close:
When a New Design Steeped in History is Needed…
Bill of Rights Institute approached Guide Creative to design a new web presence that would engage their target audiences through a compelling design and fresh content.
While Bill of Rights was already using the Blackbaud Netcommunity CMS, they had never fully leveraged the content management system;s ability to allow for easy content upadates and targeted content based on the user’s needs. Bill of Rights Institute sought to invoke a sense of history and tradition, while also apprearing cutting-edge with feature throught the site that engages the user, something Bill of Rights Institute felt their previous site had failed to do.
With this challenge in mind, and a content structure defined thorugh onsite strategy sessions, Guide Creative set out to develop a design that would establish the Bill of Rights Institute as the definitive national non-partisan sources for information on the Founding documents for students, teachers and the general public.
Upon launching the new Bill of Rights Institute website, the visual results were apparent and well-received. The design is steeped in history, but incorproates powerful technology, interactivity and social media thorought, creating a successful balance of history, tradition and a tone of progression.
Content is clearly outlined, allowing the users easily navigate through the site for the information they seek. Interactive elements, social media and online fundraising are incorporated in an intuitive way, allowing user to no only find research materials, but also have the opportunity to engage and share their findings.
While demonstrating the desired tone, voice and brand that the Institute needed to portray, they were able to organize content to easily provide the Founding documents their constituents need to access, while integrating new technology, and keeping content fresh and relevant for their audiences.
The Project Up Close:
Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Vallery Region’s (Easter Seals) main goal with their redesign through Guide Creative was to
differentiate themselves from their national office through a unique visual design. It was difficult for families seeking help for their special needs child or for professionals looking for potential sources for rehabilitation services. Easter Seals’s old web site also did not convey excellence, and did not reflect the outstanding qualities that make their centers unique. All content control and donor engagement was controlled by the National Office, thus leaving their site confusing, often outdated, and static.
By moving to a new design managed in the Blackbaud NetCommunity CMS, Easter Seals was able to gain complete control over their content and message. The new design revolved around easy content management, allowing for team members with little web editing experience to create fresh and exciting content.
The design process for Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region (Easter Seals) went through several phases as Guide Creative worked to achieve their goals. Upon completion Easter Seals, was a site design that Easter Seals was thrilled with the results and excited to see implemented as quickly as possible.
The new organization of information on the home page allowed Easter Seals to still present both national and regional information, but in a manner that does not overwhelm the user. The simplified navigation structure met their need for information to be easily found and accessed.
The Project Up Close:
When people think of YMCAs, they typically picture a gym or fitness complex. In reality, YMCAs like Frost Valley actually serve their community in many other ways.
Frost Valley runs a 6,000 acre camping and educational nature center in the Catskill Mountains. They wanted to share their impact with the community through a highly interactive and social site. This desire had to be balanced with the requirement of being 100% compliant with the brand guidelines of YMCA of the USA, while still conveying the uniqueness of the Frost Vallery YMCA.
Frost Valley partnered with GUIDE Creative to help realize their marketing, social and communication goals.
By studying the YMCA of the USA brand manual, Guide Creative was able to use the manual as a tool rather than as a constraint. YMCA of the USA empowers their camps to live their individual brand and portray their uniqueness while providing guidelines that prevent diluting the greater YMCA of the USA brand.
Guide Creative devised a clever approach to navigation that blended nature textures and actual woodcut fonts that met the brand guidelines for natural materials and textures while still giving a unique look to the Frost Valley site. The need for social integration was met by offering the ability for a user to share their entire interaction with the Frost Valley site, from donations to photos to camper registrations. Frost Valley’s Friends Asking Friends fundraising site was also updated and brought into the social fold to create a comprehensive solution that engages Frost Valley’s users along multiple channels.
The resulting design for Frost Valley YMCA is not only 100% compliant with YMCA of the USA’s guidelines, but also delivers on the promise of allowing a user to share their journey through the Frost Valley site via multiple social networks. Users can not only perform tasks, they can also share every task they perform on social media to expand Frost Valley’s reach. Crowd-sourcing the website experience is accompanied by a robust blogging strategy that allows Frost Valley YMCA to push information out along several different unique blogs, adding to the dynamic feel of the site. Frost Valley YMCA has been extremely happy with the visual design, and have greatly appreciated Guide Creative’s willingness to work with them closely to solve challenges in bringing the design to the web and still delivering a easy to use site for both the end user and Frost Valley staff. Frost Valley YMCA is currently looking forward to starting a phase two of the project in 2013, and Guide Creative is just excited to continue to grow a very productive relationship!
What is the secret ingredient to an engaging website? It’s not visual design or pretty pictures. It’s not white space or flashy artwork. It’s the chance for your audience to engage with your organization through your site, from hundreds, even thousands of miles away. Continue reading
What is Responsive Design? Why is it important? Why has it become one of the latest emerging trends in design to hit the blogosphere? do a quick dive into phenomenon and discover what Responsive Design is all about, why it is important for Nonprofits and, most importantly, what your alternatives are if Responsive Design is not right for your organization. Continue reading
Learn how to “socialize your nonprofit”, and to understand why social media is an integral part of your digital strategy. We’ll discuss social media best practices, share visual examples of successes and provide tips and tricks to embrace and rock this growing trend – what to use, how to use it, how to create a solid social strategy and execute interactivity on your website. Continue reading
Is an open source platform right for your organization? In this session, we’ll discuss the benefits of open source, review an overview of the leading open source platform for nonprofits, learn what goes into a successful WordPress® site (strategy, theme design, theme build and ongoing services) and understand how to stay on the frontline of emerging trends. Continue reading
In 2 years, your website may be accessed more often on mobile devices than on a desktop. Is your website ready for this level of mobile interaction? In this session, we’ll include the importance of designing and building with mobile in mind, review the mobile options your organization should consider, discuss mobile site best practices and recommend tips and tricks for preparing yourself for this user experience shift. Login to this session with your mobile phone and we’ll have some fun with it! Continue reading
Join us for a look back at the ghost of websites past, to see how far we’ve come with interaction on the web and to get a glimpse of where we’re headed. We can learn a lot from our history, by understanding what’s working and what’s not and from staying on top of emerging trends on the web. Continue reading
If the content management system debate were like classic Nintendo game “Punch Out”, WordPress would be Little Mac. We like to root for the underdog, but more than that, we like to be the underdog who turns heads by achieving the unlikely. Sure Mike Tyson could have been “the greatest”, but when challenged by Little Mac, the “star uppercuts” were just too much to handle. Continue reading
After extensive discovery, audience analysis, content strategy, visual design and website development, The Arthritis Society is ecstatic to take their new online presence live in anticipation of a busy fundraising season. Guide Creative is proud to have been with them every step of the way. Continue reading
Social Media can help broaden reach, convey your mission to new constituents and help you harness the value of interactivity on your website. Learn more about the power of integrating social media into your web presence. Continue reading
In the first quarter after launching a new website designed and developed by the Blackbaud and Guide Creative teams, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International experienced a 54% increase in web traffic and saw a jump of $54k in donations over the prior year. Continue reading
What a week! Thanks to everyone who attended this week’s GUIDE series where we covered what goes into creating and designing a successful, engaging website that inspires action. Read on for a brief recap, links to the session slides, recordings and to see what events are coming up where you can learn more about how we can help! Continue reading
Your brand doesn’t stop at a logo. It extends into the digital world as the most important medium for showing the world your organization’s promise and voice. Learn more about how visual design can extend your brand, build trust and engage supporters through consistent imagery and tone. Continue reading
Strategic web design can reduce the noise on your website and help your users accomplish the most important tasks to meet you nonprofit’s goals…continue reading to learn how you can analyze your site’s noise level. Continue reading
Everyone gets excited about redesigning their website. It’s a chance to start fresh. New ideas, a fresh design, new technology and a renewed focus on your online presence – all factors that drive excitement.
There’s one problem though… Continue reading
We jokingly dubbed him “Ben 1.0″ when another British designer named Ben joined the team. Apparently we have a thing for British Bens. In all seriousness, we don’t know what we’d do without 1.0, he’s pretty perfect. Get to know him and you’ll see why!
Courtney Sakre grabbed design principal, Andrew Fort, for an unscheduled, unsolicited interview to allow us to share a little bit about his style, his design inspiration and to determine which question can get the dirtiest look thrown her way.
In response to a desire at his wife’s Elementary School to have an official school “Library Dog”, Andrew Fort, Marketing and Design Principal, volunteers his Basset Hound, Calhoun, once a week to visit Sangaree Intermediate. Continue reading
Did you know that mobile is predicted to be the #1 way users access the web in less than three years? The Church of the Larger Fellowship is relaunching their online sanctuary to better serve their worldwide congregation. Continue reading
Videos, photos and podcasts, oh my! How does a nonprofit keep up with their mission while making digital progress? By incorporating a personal touch on their website through multimedia! Continue reading
School’s out for summer and you’re catching up on work, planning for a new school year and making some much needed, long overdue updates to your website, right?
But the overwhelming question looms…where should you start? Continue reading
Congratulations to KidsAndCars.Org for winning an Interactive Map in The Great Guide Giveaway! I had the pleasure of speaking with the president and founder of KidsAndCars.Org, Janette Fennell, and the passion she has for the organization is inspiring. Continue reading
Thanks for those of you who attended my virtual event on Socializing Your Nonprofit! Creating and executing a solid social plan is not only a great way to reach new audiences through a new, viral channel, but in this day and age, it’s also an expectation. Continue reading
Katherine Till, Visual Designer, gets in the game by helping people with special needs excel in their passions for sports and drama. Additionally, she and her husband serve as great role models for teenagers at their church as volunteer youth leaders. Continue reading
National Youth Leadership Council will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2013. In addition to this exciting event, the organization has undergone many changes in the past year including a new CEO, the first since the founding of the organization. Continue reading
Raytown Educational Foundation is the lucky winner of The Great Guide Giveaway grand prize of a full, strategic web design including full audience analysis, information architecture, site mapping, web design and build! Continue reading
The Great Guide Giveaway contest has officially ended, and we are thrilled with the outcome. Thank you to all who participated and helped spread the word. We will announce the grand prize winner on Monday, July 2! During the week of July 2nd we will contact the remaining winners to ensure eligibility. Once confirmed, look for the announcements the week of July 9th! Continue reading
Creative design should draw inspiration from your nonprofit’s personality, capabilities, and services. In this series, we’ll help you develop a strategy that visually articulates your brand and creates an emotive, distinct experience for your supporters. Sessions and dates will be available soon! Continue reading
Meredith is a bit of a volunteer junkie, supporting non-profits in or out of the office. Committing much of her personal time to local charities, she takes care of animals, builds houses (not really with logs), while squeezing in a quick jog in between. Continue reading
By Kelley Jarrett, Market Manager, Guide Creative First off, thank you all for your early interest and support for our new endeavor – Guide Creative, a creative agency for nonprofits from Blackbaud! We are eager to expand the ways we … Continue reading
Everyone knows that the Guide Creative team can work magic with pixels. We can create websites, logos, poster ads in our sleep (although ironically, the excitement of the creative process tends to prevent sleep)! Continue reading
Communications Coordinator & Summer Program Director, The Roeper School
“We appreciate all of the work you did to get our site up and running. Yesterday’s switch couldn’t have gone any better. Working with you has been a pleasure.”
Better control over content and donor engagement was one of the factors that led Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region to take ownership of the regional office’s web presence. Believing the old site suffered from outdated and static content, as well as a confusing layout and navigation, the design helped the organization create a strong local perception that conveyed excellence and reflected the qualities that made its centers unique.
Effective nonprofit websites don’t exist as boutiques to show off information. But you already know that. You know that your nonprofits website is a tool that should be used. Used to engage, interact with and mobilize your audience – A tool that should ultimately inspire action. Continue reading
Part two of our four part series on Effective Nonprofit Websites. Make sure to read part one if you missed it: Create a More Effective Nonprofit Website Using These 2 Simple Suggestions “The Web is a world of first impressions, … Continue reading
First impressions are lasting, so it’s important to make yours count. Your brand should capture your nonprofit’s essence and let your identity shine through. A strong, clear, well-communicated brand can build trust, broaden your reach, tell your story, and support your mission. Continue reading
Director of Communication and Information Services
Alpha Kappa Psi Fraternity
” I have been working with Andrew Fort through the entire [web design} project and have had nothing but the best experiences while working with him. The design he came up with is fantastic and all of our members have sent in emails stating how wonderful it looks and how easy it is to navigate.”
Director of Development
Midland Care Connection
“Brent Hackman our designer really listened and captured my page from the very first – he did a good job. I just want to express how pleased I have been working with him.”
Special Events & PR Coordinator
“Aga Siuda listened carefully to all of the ideas, thoughts and questions I had and gave helpful answers and comments. I was nervous about the design process, it seemed really overwhelming, but Aga made it much simpler. I am grateful to her for listening to me and for being so helpful.”
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation
“Steve Brush has been wonderful!!! We are thrilled with our site!”
Transplant Games of America
“Sally Hsieh who was assigned to our project did an excellent job working with us at the Transplant Games of America and getting our FAF site both functional as well as pleasing to the eye all within a quick turnaround. We are very appreciative of her work and I for one would be happy to work with her again if the opportunity arose in the future.”
Webmaster and Community Relations
Salpointe Catholic High School
“Just wanted to let you know that Katherine Till did a great job with some updating of our website. She took care of business quickly and with no need to revisit the requests, etc. All was taken care of correctly the FIRST time around. Thank you!”
Saint Bridget School
“Thank you so much for the extra work! That went quite a bit beyond the normal call of duty, in my opinion…” [Allison Flanary]
Communications Coordinator & Summer Program Director
The Roeper School
“I wanted to let you know that [we] appreciate all of the work you did to get our site up and running. We really appreciate how responsive you were to us whenever we contacted you. Yesterday’s switch couldn’t have gone any better. Working with you has been a pleasure. [to Kay Foreman]“
Marketing and Communications Officer
IWK Health Centre Foundation
“I just wanted to take a minute to let you know what a wonderful experience it was working with Ben German on our recent web design project. He was a delight to work with, completed the project ahead of schedule and promptly responded to any questions or issues that came up…we couldn’t be happier with the result. We look forward to working with Ben on future projects.”
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Metro St. Louis
“Amy McIntyre recently designed a Friends Asking Friends fundraising site for our Ronald McDonald House Ride event, and I’d like to commend her on a job well done. We are very pleased with the site’s look, and I’m appreciative that she translated our design requests into something that is a functional, eye-catching representation of our RMHC brand.”
Asst. Director of Advancement
Animal Rescue League of Boston
“Aga Siuda listened attentively to my description of what I wanted, then repeated it back to me with an explanation of what could be done, and alternatives for what couldn’t. She did a beautiful job on our page, engaging creatively with my requests, yet staying within my requirements, and was kind, friendly, flexible and above all fun to work with.”
A-T Children’s Project
“I just wanted to give you a huge THANKS for bringing Ben German onto our project! He’s been outstanding, and this is the level of expertise that we truly did need. I am beyond excited that we are at the point where we can move on. Thanks again!”
They didn’t ask for much… just an airplane. Providing some brand guidelines and loose criteria for the design of its Friends Asking Friends website, RMH Philadelphia was only intent on replacing the typical giving thermometer with an airplane instead. As a result Guide Creative was able to come up with an impressive design that not only incorporated the plane, but met all the requirements as well.
With a recent rebranding of its main website A Safe Haven wanted a similar refresh for their fundraising event to communicate excitement for the RUN! to End Homelessness. A major part of that goal was not only to update the colors and styles for a more modern look overall, but more importantly to showcase the involvement and support from past volunteers and participants. Guide Creative designed the site with an emphasis on photos of past events, with a simple, engaging method for all upcoming events.